Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) Law Cases

By
Mayu Suzuki and Kimberly Go

This document is a supplement to Trial by Fire: A Chinese NGO's Work on Environmental Health Litigation in China.

FISH FARMING (JULY 1997 TO APRIL 2002)

Plaintiff: 97 households of farmers at Jiangsu Province, Donghai County, Shilianghe Village
Defendant: Shandong Jinyimeng Company and Linshu Huagong Factory
Ruling: The defendants agreed to pay 5,652,000 Yuan in compensation for the farmers' loss and promised to stop polluting.

Between 1999 and 2000, 97 households of fish farmers in Donghai County, Jiangsu Province suffered a massive loss of stock equivalent to $1.4 million. An investigation revealed that Jinyimeng, a paper manufacturing company, and the Linshu Huagong chemical engineering factory were responsible for contaminating the farmers' fish ponds through unchecked dumping into the Shilianghe River. In 2001, the farmers appealed to the Jiangsu Province Yungang City Intermediate People's Court for a moratorium on these factories' operations, a promise to curb pollution, and $77 million in compensation for their loss. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, ordering Jinyimeng and Linshu Huagong to meet the farmers' demands and pay legal expenses. The defendants appealed the decision in April 2002 but did not succeed in changing the ruling. Since the resolution of the case, the quality of water from the Shilianghe River has improved considerably.

UNRESPONSIVE PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU (AUGUST 2003 TO JULY 2004)

Plaintiff: Zhang Shijun
Defendant: The Xicheng District Public Security Bureau
Ruling: Mediated, suit withdrawn

In August 2003, Beijing resident Zhang Shijun submitted a complaint to the Xicheng District Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) regarding noise pollution from a local elementary school. The complaint demanded the EPB to stop the unwanted noise. The District Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) informed Mr. Zhang that his complaint fell under the jurisdiction of the District Public Security Bureau (PSB). In November 2003, Mr. Zhang resubmitted his complaint to the PSB but received no response. With help from CLAPV, Mr. Zhang subsequently filed a lawsuit with the Beijing Xicheng District People's Court demanding that the PSB take legal responsibility for his claim. Mr. Zhang withdrew his suit after the Public Security Bureau issued a warning to the elementary school.

FROG FARMING (1993 TO 2006)

Plaintiffs: Frog farmers in Zhejiang Province
Defendant: Jiaxing City Buyun Ranhua dyeing factory, Buyun Ranliao dyeing factory, Buyun chemical factory, Xiangyang chemical factory, and Gaolian Silk printing and dyeing factory etc.
Ruling: Decision pending

In the spring and summer of 1993, frog farmers in Zhejiang Province lost a total of 2,700,000 frogs after five local industries contaminated the waterway. The accused industries included Buyun Ranhua factory, Buyun Ranliao factory, Buyun chemical factory, Xiangyang chemical factory, and Gaolian Silk printing and dyeing factory. In the spring of 1994, the frog farmers and others who were impacted by economic losses from the pollution demanded that the factories cease contaminating the waterway. When the factories failed to meet this demand by December 1995, the farmers—with help from CLAPV—appealed to the Pinghu People's Court for a compensatory fee of 483,000 Yuan. In July 1997, the Pinghu People's Court ruled that the 5 factories were responsible for the damages; however, it refused to grant the plaintiffs their demands because they could not prove the connection between the death of the frogs and water pollution. Dissatisfied, CLAPV helped the farmers appeal the ruling to the Jiaxing Intermediate People's Court. The case has bounced back and forth between various courts from 1998 until 2006, when the Supreme People's Court stopped the appeals due to a lack of participation on the part of the defendants. The case remains unresolved.

CYANIDE AND SULFUR (SUMMER 2004 TO MAY 2006)

Plaintiff: Zhang Sugang, a fruit farmer at Yuanshi County at Hebei province
Defendant: Hebei Chengxin Huagong Co. Ltd. (Chemical engineering)
Ruling: Defendant to dig a well and pay total compensation of RMB 150,000

Zhang Sugang's orchard in Yuanshi County (Hebei Province) flourished until 1997, when Hebei Chengxin Huagong Co. Ltd. dumped a massive amount of waste dregs containing cyanide and sulfur in the surrounding village. Following this event, Mr. Zhang's orchard production and resulting profit fell by half. Mr. Zhang's problems were compounded in the summer of 2000, when flooding of the Huai River caused the toxic dregs to sink underground and dry up the well supplying the orchard, after which production fell to nothing. When appeals to the local Environmental Protection Agency proved ineffective, Mr. Zhang—with help from CLAPV—appealed to the Yuanshi Xian People's Court for environmental pollution restitution. Yuanshi Xian People's Court decided in February 2006 that Chengxin Huagong would dig a 300-meter well for Mr. Zhang and pay a compensatory fee of 150,000 Yuan.

TREE AND CROP DEVASTATION (October 2002 to November 2005)

Plaintiff: 1,721 villagers of Bingnan County, Fujian Province
Defendant: Rongbing Chemical Factory
Ruling: Rongbing agreed to pay 684,178.2 Yuan and begin cleaning up the local environment within a year of the ruling. Both the defendant and the plaintiff paid for legal expenses, and only the defendant paid for the investigation fee.

Bingnan County saw a dramatic increase in deforestation, river pollution, and skin and respiratory disease following the establishment of Rongbing Chemical Factory in 1992. After the factory's second expansion in 2002, the death rate of trees and crops rapidly increased, turning many areas into complete wastelands. The villagers complained repeatedly and appealed to the local government for assistance; however, because Rongbing accounted for one-quarter of the county's revenue, the villagers' pleas were ignored and the pollution persisted. In October 2002, with the help of lawyers provided through CLAPV, 1,721 villagers appealed to Ningde Intermediate People's Court demanding a compensation of 13,543,640 Yuan from Rongbing Chemical Factory. The villagers also asked the factory to clean up the pollution and to cease violating local environmental law. In April 2005, the court ordered the factory to pay 249,763 Yuan for the loss of trees and crops and a litigation fee of 25,895 Yuan. The court also ordered the factory to obey all relevant environmental laws. Neither side was satisfied and appealed to Fujian High People's Court, which in November 2005 ordered the factory to pay 684,178.2 Yuan and clean up the pollution in the county. The ruling also prohibited Rongbing Chemical Factory from re-appealing, thus finalizing the case. After the case, the plaintiffs established an environmental NGO—the Pingnan Green Association to monitor the polluting factories and investigate other attempts, such as dams to damage the county's environment. The central government selected this case as one of ten most effective examples of litigation in China in 2005.

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